#FixTheCountry: A year on since a non-political group organized one of Ghana’s biggest protests ever

FixTheCountry 4 Aug6 The #FixTheCountry protest brought hundreds onto the streets of Accra in August 2021

Sat, 6 Aug 2022 Source: www.ghanaweb.com

GhanaWeb Feature

Totally unplanned and unsure of how grand in scope it would turn out to be, a social media influencer started a hashtag to highlight some of the challenges being faced by citizens.

Before long, this hashtag became an evident force online for many Ghanaians to express and register their displeasure with the management of the country, by the people they had elected into political office.

The #FixTheCountry soon enough also aimed to demand from political leadership strict accountability; the kind of accountability that would see them return to a more favourable economy – one that would allow young men and women cope better against the challenges of the economy.

And like an avalanche, thousands, if not millions of Ghanaians got more and more interested in the online campaign, prompting a group, the Economic Fighters League, to firmly take charge of the online hashtag and translate it to the streets.

The movement, #FixTheCountry Movement, then started mobilizing people towards a street protest.

Police stop #FixTheCountry protest:

As a way of getting the blessing of the Ghana Police Service for their protest, the EFL wrote to the Accra Regional Police Command, informing it that it intended to protest on May 9, 2021.

After initial assurances, the police, at the last minute, indicated that it could not permit the #FixTheCountry group to embark on their intended protest. Providing their reasons, the police said the COVID-19 restrictions prevent them from embarking on their planned exercise.

It added that allowing the group to advance with their plan would be a breach of the restrictions that were still in place in the country at the time, putting them and the rest of the country at a high risk of contracting the deadly pandemic.

“The notification to the police to organise a demonstration is provided by the Public Order Act and, so, once we receive a notification from any organiser or a group of people planning on such a demonstration, what we do as a command is to invite them, sit down, we look at the letter, look at the merits of the letter on such a demonstration.

“If there’s anything the police needs to take note of and advise the group as such; whether the letter, in a way, endangers public safety; whether the police has the numbers to protect the demonstrating public; we take all these into consideration and then the police decides what action to take based on the discussions between us and the groups who are intending to embark on this demonstration,” DSP Effia Tenge said at the time.

However, Ernesto Yeboah, one of the leaders of the protest, maintained that the reasons given by the police make no sense because their loyalty is to the president.

NDC, NPP politicians feast on #FixTheCountry campaign:

While it was clearly stated from the start of the campaign by the organisers that the protest was a non-partisan movement which was neither targeted at the government nor the opposition National Democratic Congress, it was an unavoidable fact that people were going to take advantage of it.

Before long, it became clear that embarking on an initiative that had the potential of making the party in power unpopular and by that, give some advantage to the opposition, politicians from both the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) quickly jumped on the bandwagon.

Some of those who used the campaign to champion their own interests were Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Sammy Gyamfi, Hopeson Adorye, Stan Dogbe, Kennedy Agyapong, John Dumelo, and Freddie Blay .

#FixTheCountry protest turns to #FixMotherGhana virtual protest on May 9: With increasing restrictions on the group’s intentions to protest, the organizers of the #FixTheCountry protest decided to change their action format. May 9, being the global day for celebrating mothers became the inspiration for this change.

In an update to followers, the campaigners said they would rather stage a virtual protest on Sunday, May 9.

“We are declaring this Sunday as a day to serve our Motherland,” they said in the update.

#FixTheCountry convener details how they were 'forced' into a meeting of cabinet ministers:

And then there were even more details revealed by the conveners of the protest that took many by surprise, and supporting the claims that the government was trying to suppress the rights of the group to protest at all cost.

Oliver Barker-Vormawor, one of the conveners, detailed how the government clandestinely lured its leadership into a meeting that turned out to be a cabinet meeting.

According to him, the initial plan to go meet the Inspector-General of Police to discuss issues with respect to their campaign but they were taken on a new route that led them away from their originally planned meeting venue, to what they discovered, was a meeting of government ministers, with the exception of the Minister of Health.

This is how he narrated what happened:

“The consistent actions by state actors so far for me does not show that it takes its citizens as matured stakeholders in our democratic conversation. I am bit perplexed and a little disappointed to hear that what is happening to us is a bit respectful; I find it difficult to accept. First of all, let’s walk through the procedures the government has taken to address our concerns our rights to express our disaffection. Seeing careful on the nature on how we were whisked into what was in essence, a cabinet meeting, for me, that significantly displeases me. People have the right to their bodily autonomy and to decide where they want to go.

“We were told after we submitted our letter to the police and the respondent that the Inspector-General of Police wanted to meet us and, on the way, in the police convoy to that meeting, the location was changed and we were taken somewhere else, to a fully-conveyed team of government ministers, incidentally one of the key persons who was missing from that meeting was the minister for health. And I think that is significant because COVID-19 has been used as a red herring.

“There is something about it that is interesting to me because first, let me tell you about how we were served with that injunction and people can determine whether this was respectful. So, after the meeting, the government had indicated to us that they were going to dialogue, that we should consider dropping the demand to go on the demonstration, and that they wanted to form an inter-ministerial committee, our representative in the meeting told them that we weren’t expecting to have this meeting and that we were practically ambushed into the meeting and so give us time to engage with the entire audience about how they feel about this idea.

“When we left that meeting, regional commander who had driven us into that meeting – mind you, the IGP himself was not in that meeting, said we have another meeting at 3 O’clock to discuss the protest and so when we were still preparing a response to the letter they had given us, and then when it was getting closer to the 48-hour margin, we asked if we could send it to them via email, they said No and that it had to be in person. Unknown to us, the reason they wanted to receive it in person was because they wanted to serve us with an injunction they had procured on our blind side even though they knew who they were dealing with," he detailed.

GhanaWeb Polls: Over 2000 respondents want the country fixed:

Following all the back and forth on whether or not the protest should be held, GhanaWeb conducted a poll on the topic, “What do you think is the most important to fix?” and over 2,000 people shared their views on the subject.

Out of the total 2,972 votes cast, 2,030 representing 68.30% said the country needed to be fixed first before other matters are looked at.

942 representing 31.70% were of the view that Ghanaians need to work on themselves; their attitudes to help in the development of the county.

Click on the link to see the poll results.

Things seemed to have been taxing on when the group would be allowed to protest until a major incident spiralled thing.

Murder of Kaaka at Ejura:

In the town of Ejura, it was reported that a member of the Economic Fighters League, and ultimately, the #FixTheCountry Movement, died three days after suffering a mob attack in the Ashanti Region town.

Conveners of #FixTheCountry demanded justice for their deceased colleague, Kaaka Anyass Ibrahim Mohammed, known on social media as Macho Kaaka, after he sustained life-threatening injuries from the mob attack on Saturday, June 25, 2021.

Reports said that Kaaka was repeatedly struck in the head with objects until he lost consciousness.

He died on Monday, June 28, 2021, at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi.

According to the conveners of #FixTheCountry, the deceased had been receiving threats from some persons alleged to be bodyguards of the Ejura Sekyeredumase MCE, who indicated that the deceased’s activities on social media were making the Akufo-Addo-led government unpopular in the area.

August 4 set for anticipated #FixTheCountry protest:

After months of trying, the group eventually got the green light to organize its much-anticipated protest on August 4, 2022.

Being his first major assignment as Inspector General of Police, COP Dr. George Akuffo Dampare, assured the group that there would be maximum security for all protesters who would participate in the August 4 protest.

He also expressed his optimism on how peaceful he hoped the protest would be, with the support of his men.

Thousands of Ghanaian youth turn up for #FixTheCountry demo on Founders' Day:

Protesters clad in black and red turned up early at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle to join “disappointed Ghanaians” who were calling for better management of the country.

Despite the stiff opposition greeted by the #FixThe Country protest, convenors were finally given the nod by an Accra High Court presided over by Justice Ruby Aryeetey on Friday, June 25 to embark on the protest following a police injunction.

According to GhanaWeb’s reporter, Etsey Atisu, all COVID-19 safety protocols were observed by persons who joined in the demonstration.

Although there was little or no regard for social distancing, a majority of them were seen wearing nose masks.

Some of the placards displayed had “Stop making foreigners look down on Ghana”, "Wake up sleepy old president", "Stop the corruption in the judiciary", "Fix our Education system now" boldly written on them.

Meanwhile, GhanaWeb is accepting nominations for the prestigious GhanaWeb Excellence Awards – Youth Edition. Click here to nominate.

Watch the latest episode of #SayItLoud below:


Source: www.ghanaweb.com
Related Articles: